What resolution or frame rate to film at?
As cameras continue to improve at a rapid rate we as Videographers have to face the question of what resolution or frame rate to film at. What resolution should we film in. 4K 24 fps or ultra 4k 30fps Full HD 120 fps. Yes it is confusing. This decision used to be easy. Full HD 24 frames per second (fps) for the film look. This was when camera’s in 2011-2015 gave us limited options. When the Panasonic GH5 was released with the latest firmware we started to have more choices. Not only resolution and frame rates but different codes in these resolutions like 8 bit and 10 bit that are creating larger files.We also use more than one camera especially when it comes to travel videos and vlogs where we might me using 3 different cameras for different purposes like drones, gopros, and a primary camera like the Panasonic GH5. Let me offer some help here and simplify things for you
Full HD 24 FPS 8 bit
If I’m filming an interview I still use 1920 * 1080P 24 FPS 8 bit. The quality is still good and it keeps the file size down. Most customers just want a good looking video with to share over social media or their website. They haven’t started requesting for 4K resolution yet.
If you have a powerful laptop to edit video you can film Full HD at 10 bit or Ultra 4K or Full 4K. You will end up with larger files.
Full HD 30fps
Use this setup if you want a sports broadcast feel that isn’t as cinematic
Full HD at 60,120,180 FPS
Use this setup if you want super slow-motion for those speed ramps you see in some vlogs.
Ultra 4K (3840*2160) 24FPS
This is the top resolution my DJI Mavic air and my smartphone films at. I’ve started to film this resolution with my Panasonic GH5 as well as it’s higher resolution than HD, but is easier to edit with HD. Why is it easier to edit with? Well you can use this footage with HD and now worry about scaling the footage in your timeline to match
Ultra 4K (3840*2160p) 60fps
This allows you to get the benefit of higher resolution than HD but still get some slow motion. At the moment this features is available in newer Cameras like the Panasonic GH5 or Gopro 6 and above and so on. It’s a way of differentiating your videos from others with the older cameras. It has a nice aesthetic and I’ve used it a lot for stock footage when I see people doing something in motion or action. I’ve also started to use it while filming from the car or the back of a motorbike. I film a lot of stock footage at this frame rate as there isn’t a lot of footage shot in this setup.
Full 4K (4096 & 2160) 24 fps 8bit
This is the setup I choose to future-proof my stock footage work. It still has a cinematic look, but even at 8 bit these high resolution files are large and require newer laptops to cut through this footage with ease. I started to film with these resolution with the DJI osmo and my Phantom Pro 3. These camera’s had a fixed lens, so when the Panasonic GH5 was introduced I was able to shoot at this resolution with an interchangeable lens. With the GH5 there are more options to shoot in 10 bit 150 mbps and even higher with less compression, which I won’t get into
When you’re shooting stock footage or fast paced action with a camera like the Panasonic GH5 it can be time consuming to setup the correct resolution, frame rate, and not to mention the base iso, aperture, and shutter speed. That is why it’s good to use the custom control settings to save your favorite setups for quick recall when you need that split second shot.
When you’re editing a video you also have to make decisions on what resolution you’re going to create the final video in and how to incorporate all the different footage. For youtube I will just create an HD project. I can still use the 4K footage into an HD project, but I can scale without losing quality. This is nice to do things like a keyframe zoom effect. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about check out some of my recent videos. I hope this helps you a bit. There are a lot more options you can select with a camera like the Panasonic GH5. Are you using these? Please share your experience in the comments below.
In my Final Cut Pro X Online Course I cover how you can edit a video project with all these resolutions and put this together.
If you want to learn more about shooting video in multiple resolutions and frame rates please check out my Panasonic GH5 Videography Course
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